Mainline’s Nichols honored with community health award
After receiving new grants to expand services, opening a school-based clinic at Drew Central and getting ready to open a new facility, Mainline Health Systems, Inc.’s snowball just keeps rolling.
The organization’s executive director, Allan Nichols, was recently honored by Community Health Center of Arkansas with the Jack Geiger Vision Award.
This award goes to an honoree who has contributed to Geiger’s vision for the health center in a meaningful way. Dr. Jack Geiger and colleague Dr. Count Gibson are often credited as the pioneers of the community health center movement in the United States.
Geiger was active in the Civil Rights movement in the early 1940s and, after completing his medical training, participated in the Freedom Summer in Mississippi in 1964. In the following years, Geiger helped organize residents in Bolivar County, Miss., and in the Columbia Point Public Housing Project in Boston, to establish the nation’s first two community health centers.
The health centers were funded through the Office of Economic Opportunity, the agency directing the so-called “War on Poverty.” The early health centers provided important medical services but also addressed the social determinants of health such as poverty, unemployment, malnutrition and environmental health issues. There are now more than 1,200 health centers nationwide, which were modeled after these community health centers.
Nichols has been the director of Mainline since 2008.
“It is very humbling to receive this award,” Nichols said. “I hardly feel I deserve it. I work with fantastic people who are 100 percent bought into serving others and trying every day to be your best for them. We have the best jobs in the world because we get to do God’s work every day and get paid to do it. Amazing!
“I tell every employee I interview that if you get goosebumps at the thought of doing missionary work and be paid to do it, then Mainline is for you—and if you do not, it definitely is not your place to be.”
Community health centers across Arkansas offer affordable, quality health care to underserved, underprivileged patients. According to CHCA’s website (chc-ar.org), the vision and mission of the organization is “to be an innovative leader, promoting improved health care outcomes and equal access to the highest quality health care for all Arkansans,” and “to advocate for and facilitate the success of health centers and promote access to health care in Arkansas.”
In Drew County, Mainline Health Systems, Inc. is currently constructing a larger, updated facility to serve the people of Southeast Arkansas.
“The building project on our new facility (located at 535 Jordan Drive near Monticello Intermediate School) is progressing,” Nichols added. “Everything is painted and they are putting in the drop ceiling at this time. There have been delays on concrete with the wet August we had, but we are catching up. We will complete the project in Q4 (quarter four) 2017. With a little luck we may be in before Thanksgiving.”
CHCA is a non-profit organization established in 1985 to expand access to affordable quality care in Arkansas, and to create a unified voice for community health centers and the patients they serve. For more than 30 years, CHCA has received funding to provide training/technical assistance to CHCs for improving care delivery. CHCA is governed by a Board of Directors, comprised of the Executive Directors from each member CHC.
CHCA serves 12 CHC organizations and their more than 100 service locations across Arkansas. The services offered by CHCA help Arkansas CHCs provide effective and efficient care to their patients, further their goals of improving access to care and reducing health disparities; and improved health outcomes.
CHCA has, over the years, successfully served as a conduit for new programs, projects and funding that supports greater access to comprehensive services for underserved populations throughout Arkansas. CHCA collaborates with local, state and federal partners, organizations and policy makers to positively influence changes to policies, regulations and legislation aimed at strengthening the health centers’ ability to provide affordable, accessible, comprehensive, quality health care services to the uninsured, underserved, Medicare and Medicaid Arkansans.